The Europa League preliminary round is over – now it’s time for the knockout round. In the playoffs, Leverkusen will meet its former striker Kevin Volland and Monaco. Union will take on Ajax. In addition, Barcelona and Man United will face each other.

Bayer’s reunion with Monaco’s Volland

Bayer 04 Leverkusen finished the Champions League group stage in third place, ahead of Atletico, with two draws. In the playoffs, coach Xabi Alonso’s team will face AS Monaco with former Bayer striker Kevin Volland and FC Bayern’s on-loan keeper Alexander Nübel.

Union get Ajax

Union Berlin still managed to make the playoffs with three 1-0 wins in the Europa League. The Bundesliga leaders, who were relegated on matchday 13, will face Ajax Amsterdam. The Dutch side, coached by Alfred Schreuder, also lost their top spot in the standings at the weekend after a 2-1 defeat to chasing PSV Eindhoven. 

Barcelona against United, but not CR7

FC Barcelona, FC Bayern’s group opponents in the Champions League preliminary round, have been drawn as the most prestigious opponent from the Europa League. Robert Lewandowski will play against Manchester United. In 2009, this duel was a Champions League final – the Catalans won 2:0, partly because Messi scored with his head. Cristiano Ronaldo, on the other hand, will not be coming to Camp Nou: United have terminated their contract with the Portuguese.

Play-offs in February – Freiburg can still watch

The Europa League play-offs will be played between 16 and 23 February 2023. The winners of these eight duels will then meet the group winners of the EL preliminary round in the round of 16 from 9 to 16 March. Only then will SC Freiburg enter the competition, but if Union and/or Leverkusen advance, they will not be able to meet a Bundesliga opponent.